History and Culture of Japan
Japan is about the same size as California. Japan is made up of many islands. The four largest islands in Japan are Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, and Shikoku. Japan forms an arc in the Pacific Ocean. Japans total area is about 378,000 square kilometers. About 75% of Japans land is mountains. Japans highest mountain is Mount Fuji at 3776 meters. Japan has several volcanic regions and 80 volcanoes are considered active. Mount Fuji hasn’t erupted since 1707 and is considered capable of erupting again in our lifetime. To the east of Japan is the Pacific Ocean and to the west is the Sea of Japan.
Being in the middle of these two bodies of water has its advantages. Japan has a great abundance of fish! The climate in Japan varies from region to region. Japan has four distinct seasons. Spring months are March, April, and May. Summer months are June, July, and August. Autumn months are September, October, and November. Winter months are December, January, and February. Summer is hot and humid and during the winter it snows a lot on the Sea of Japan side and it is dry on the Pacific side. Japans rainy season lasts about 40 days from the months of June and July.
August to October is the typhoon season in Japan. In April, May, and November, temperatures are mild, and there is not so much rain in most parts of Japan. History They have been people living on the island of Japan for more than 30,000 years. To be able to eat they hunted deer, bears, and fish. They also, gathered nuts and berries. The main artifacts that were left behind were pots. They were marked with cords and/or ropes. Jomon means cork-marked. During the Jomon era the people in Japan learned new ideas and technologies from coming in contact with China and Korea.
They learned how to farm rice. They also learned how to make toots and weapons. This is called the Yayoi era. During the era, groups of families begin to struggle for power in the Yamato Plain. The plain lies southeast of modern Kyoto. One of the extended family groups started to dominate the others and soon name itself Japans imperial household. The head of the imperial house whose name was Kotoku became emperor in 645. Japanese beliefs were depended on for the imperial family to justify its claim to authority. The family descended from Amaterasu, the Japanese Sun Goddess.
In 974, which is known as the Heian era, the imperial household moved to a new city called Heian-kyo. Only men were allowed to rule during the Heian era. The city Heian-kyo was the center of Japanese government and nobility for 400 years. In the 700’s they had the “Creation of private estates. ” What these properties were used for is so landowners wouldn’t get taxed. In the 1100’s they had the rise of the shogun. Two large military clans, the Taira and the Minamoto, fought for power. The Minamoto clan eventually won in the 1180’s.
They began to take over land from private land owners. During the Tokugawa era, the Tokugawa took over 75% of Japan. In the 1600’s Japan was now home to five groups of foreigners: Portuguese, Spanish, English, Dutch, and Chinese. The Tokugawa thought Christianity was an outsider religion and did not support and that is why they did not agree with the foreigners. They eventually expelled the foreigners from Japan in the 1630’s. Japan had now put an end to centuries of war and was now closed off from the rest of the world. In 1853, contact with the west ended in direct changes.
In 1867, they restored the emperor to his throne and made Japan known as a well securitized, dangerous, and competitive world. After defeating China in war, Japan assumed control over Taiwan in 1895. Korea fell under Japanese control in 1910 following a brutal war between Japan and Russia in 1905. In 1939 World War II began, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1941. They also bombed U. S. bases which began a war between the Japanese and America. Japan surrendered on August 14th, they had agreed to end the war. Culture Japan has a population of about 126 million.
Japan is a wealthy and extremely safe country. The official language of Japan is Japanese. Many Japanese can also speak English to an extent. At almost all their meals the Japanese drink tea and eat rice. In Japan fish is most used for meals. The two most major religions that are practiced in Japan are Shinto and Buddhism. Japanese society imposes strong expectations on women and men. Women are expected to marry in their 20’s, and take on the role of a house mom. They play a strong role in raising their children. Japanese are very strict about education.
Students must attend 9 years of school then attend a University. Students who attend a University have a better rate of getting a good job than the others. Japan has a rich literary heritage. The country’s literature mostly deals with the quality of human life and never-ending flowing time. Japanese families enjoy one of the highest income levels in the world, and their assets and savings are one of the worlds largest. Japan’s economy is one of the largest in the world. Japan’s manufactured products range from tiny computer components to giant oceangoing ships.
The most important manufactured products include cars and trucks, electronic products, and communications and data processing equipment. Japan has a wide variety of minerals, but supplies of most are too small to satisfy the nation’s needs. Japan imports large quantities of coal, copper, iron ore, and petroleum. The chief mining products include coal, copper, gold, lead, nickel, and silver. Japan has a modern transportation system, including airports, highways, railroads, and coastal shipping. Japan has thriving publishing and broadcasting industries. The nation has about 120 daily newspapers.
Japan is a country of drinkers. There are a few rituals of drinking. First, you never pour yourself a drink. A word you’ll hear often when drinking is “Kampai,” it means cheers in Japanese. The most popular sport in Japan is baseball. It was brought to Japan in 1873 by a US teacher. Other sports in Japan are Football which is known as Soccer in America, Sumo Wrestling, and Speed Boat Racing. The Geisha in Japan have been symbols of Japan ever since the reopening of contacts with the West in the mid-nineteenth century. The Geishas were there to be the entertainment in the mid-18th century.
Japanese Holidays On January 15th of every year Japan celebrate “Coming of Age Day. ” All of the people who have celebrated 20th birthdays in the previous year get together and celebrate. Each February 3rd in Japan is known as Setsubun. The word Setsubun means separation of seasons. It marks the beginning of the “Eve of Springs. ” The Doll’s Festival, or Girl’s festival, is celebrated on March 3rd. Originally, the holiday was a simple seasonal event especially in rural areas. It took place a month later after the pleasantly warm spring season had begun.
For this reason the occasion was sometimes called The Peach Blossom Festival. To celebrate girls growth and good health, dolls dressed in Heian period costumes are displayed on a tiered stand. These dolls represent the Emperor and Empress, their noble court ladies in waiting and ministers. On March 20th they celebrate Vernal Equinox Day. Vernal Equinox is one of the most traditional Japanese National Holidays. They celebrate Heisei emperor’s birthday on December 23rd. Government Japan has a government that is guided by the rules and principles of a Constitutional Monarchy and a Parliamentary Government.
The government of Japan has the features and characteristic that a parliamentary government should possess. On the other had the constitutional monarchic system that Japan has as an integral part of its government, has added a unique characteristic to its administrative system. Japan government is democratic and is ruled by the parliament. Japan parliament is known as Diet. Diet again has two houses. These two houses are House of Representatives and House of Councilors. In the cabinet, there is the prime minister with others elected members from different states. Together they administer the executive branch of the government.
There are five main political parties in the Diet. These are, Liberal Democratic party, Democratic Party of Japan, New Clean Government Party, Japan Communist Party and Social Democratic Party. The Prime Minister of Japan is the head of government of Japan. Since World War II, office has appointed by the Japanese Diet and by convention is the leader of the majority party which has usually been the Liberal Democratic Party. To be precise, according to the Constitution, the emperor appoints the Prime Minister among members of the Diet regarding the advice from the Diet.
Because of the fractionized and consensus nature of Japanese politics, the Prime Minister has very little power. His position as President of the majority party involves negotiation with party faction leaders, and legislation is usually initiated and reviewed by party committees rather than by the cabinet. Furthermore, substantial power is actually wielded by the Japanese civil service over which the Prime minister has little control. The current Prime Minister of Japan is Naoto Kan. The first ever Prime Minister of Japan was Hirobumi Ito.